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Steve Lukather: Transition (Bassists: Lee Sklar, Tal Wilkenfeld, Nathan East, Renee Jones, John Pierce)

Steve-LukatherRICK’S PICKS: Steve Lukather: Transition  (Mascot Records) / Bassists: Lee Sklar, Tal Wilkenfeld, Nathan East, Renee Jones, John Pierce

4-stars

 

 

The Album: Toto co-founder and session veteran Steve Lukather releases his seventh solo album, and it’s a gem. The man clearly has an innate ability to tap into a deep well of emotion and human experience, and it shows on all fronts: playing, composing and soul-bearing lyrics. Steve shoots for a far-reaching musical statement on Transition, and succeeds. The album is mostly a collaboration between Lukather and keyboardist CJ Vanston, who co-produced, engineered and mixed the project.

At times dark, and other times optimistic, Lukather’s range runs the gamut. There are brilliant lines throughout: “It’s never right when the life that you lead / Is nothing but a shadow on the wall / All the love and the blood that you leach / Will surely be the author of your fall”, he sings on “Creep Motel”. The masterful tune “Right The Wrong”, which could have come right out of the late-70’s Toto songbook, features one of the best muscial hooks ever, as Steve sings “We are the future and the past / We gotta make it last / Before it’s gone”. Another particularly notable tune is the Jeff Beck-ish title track, which appropriately features Tal Wilkenfeld on bass; mostly instrumental (the vocal enters at about 4 minutes in), the tune is, in itself, a series of musical transitions that alternates between odd-metered fusion and acoustic guitar over layered soundscapes, before settling into introspective lyrics about death after life. Steve ends the album with a short instrumental take on the Charlie Chaplin standard “Smile”, dedicating the song to his mother who passed away in 2010. His vocals throughout Transition are in fine shape, and his guitar playing is typically stellar.

The Bassists: Lee Sklar opens the album and plays on the first two cuts. He’s right in the pocket, as always, and even takes a nice– but mixed low– 8-bar solo on “Judgement Day”. As stated, Tal plays brilliantly on the track “Transition”. Other bassists on the album are John Pierce, who lends a rock solid low end to three tracks, Lukather’s touring bassist Renee Jones, who is perfectly understated on the ballad “Once Again”, and Nathan East, who nails the damn floor to the foundation on “Rest Of The World”.

Best Tracks: “Creep Motel”, “Right The Wrong”, “Transition”, “Rest Of The World”

 

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